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Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 17 September 2019

Insights Daily Current Affairs + PIB: 17 September 2019

Table of contents:

GS Paper 2:

  1. Impact of attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facility.


GS Paper 3:

  1. Hidden cost of global food, land use at $12 trillion.
  2. NIRVIK scheme.
  3. Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
  4. India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP).
  5. Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA).


Facts for Prelims:

  1. Survey of India.

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered:

Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.


Impact of attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facility


What to study?

For Prelims: Top importers and exporters of oil.

For Mains: Impact of the Recent attack, what needs to be done?


Context: Houthis, a rebel Shia group of Yemen that is backed by Iran, bombed the Abqaiq plant as well as the Khurais oil field in Saudi Arabia using drones.


Impact of the attack:

  • Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company, had to suspend the production of almost 6 million barrels per day (about 6 per cent of global oil supply).
  • It had to restrict the use of 2 mbd of spare capacity.
  • This is the largest-ever disruption in crude oil production in Saudi Arabia.


Concerns for India:

  1. Saudi supplies 10 per cent of global world supply and is the world’s largest crude oil exporter.
  2. India imports 80% of the oil it consumes, which means there are multiple ways in which the country will be impacted by this disruption. With this attack, Oil prices may go up
  3. India is already trying to make up for the loss of supply from Iran after US-imposed sanctions. After Iraq, Saudi Arabia is India’s second-largest supplier of crude oil.
  4. Besides, the global supply has been volatile because of disruptions in some of the other big suppliers such as Venezuela, Libya and Nigeria.
  5. Supply constraints and rising oil prices would mean that the rupee will weaken further against the dollar — that’s because, as the dollar prices of crude oil rise, India would need to buy more dollars for the same amount of oil, thus depreciating the value of the rupee vis-à-vis the dollar.
  6. Rising oil prices will worsen the Indian government’s fiscal balance
  7. Higher crude oil prices would also lead to higher domestic oil prices, which, in turn, will further depress the demand for all things, especially those that use oil as the primary input — say, cars.
  8. This dip in consumption demand, which is already under strain as the recent growth slowdown has shown, would likely mean lower economic activity and consequently lower revenues for the government.


Sources: Indian Express.

GS Paper 3:

Topics Covered:

Issues related to direct and indirect farm subsidies and minimum support prices; Public Distribution System objectives, functioning, limitations, revamping; issues of buffer stocks and food security.


Hidden cost of global food, land use at $12 trillion


What to study?

For Prelims: What is hidden cost? Key findings of the report.

For Mains: Concerns, measures needed.


Context: Food and Land use Coalition (FOLU), a collaboration of food, farming and green research groups, has released a report on ‘hidden’ environmental, health and poverty costs.


Key findings:

  1. Food and land use systems are defined as the way “land is used, food is produced, stored, packed, processed, traded, distributed, marketed, consumed and disposed of”.
  2. These are the leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions (up to 30 per cent) driving climate change.
  3. They are responsible for the degradation of the world’s tropical forests, grasslands, wetlands and other remaining natural habitats.
  4. They are also the leading cause behind the ongoing ‘sixth extinction’ of biodiversity.
  5. Malnutrition leads to the largest hidden costs: Today one-third of the world’s population is malnourished; by 2030 it is expected to rise up to 50 per cent.


Concerns raised:

  • The current methods of food production, consumption and land use systems incur ‘hidden’ environmental, health and poverty costs estimated at almost $12 trillion a year.
  • These hidden costs can cause irreversible damage to key ecosystems, fundamentally undermine food security in certain regions, and increase public health costs.
  • If action is not taken timely the costs will rise to more than $16 trillion a year by 2050.
  • It will also put the United Nations-mandated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement climate targets out of reach.
  • This can further unleash food scarcity, disrupt markets and cause political instability, particularly in poor countries, and greately affect women and children.


The report proposes a reform agenda — centred around 10 critical transitions — of real actionable solutions:

  1. Healthy diets
  2. Productive and regenerative agriculture
  3. A healthy and productive ocean
  4. Protecting and restoring nature
  5. Diversifying protein supply
  6. Reducing food loss and waste
  7. Local loops and linkages
  8. Harnessing the digital revolution
  9. Stronger rural livelihoods
  10. Gender and demography


The need for reducing hidden costs:

  1. While an estimated $30 billion public investment is required to deliver the transition, if strongly implemented it can result in an estimated $1.285 trillion by 2030, and $1.920 trillion by 2050.
  2. Reducing the current ‘hidden costs’ of food and land use systems would add $5.7 trillion economic gains to society annually by 2030 and $10.5 trillion annually by 2050.
  3. A reduction in public health costs of $1.090 trillion a year by 2030 would be the biggest driver of the gain.


Sources: Down to Earth.

Topics Covered:

Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth.

NIRVIK scheme


What to study?

For Prelims and mains: Key features and significance of the scheme.


Context: Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC) has introduced ‘NIRVIK’ scheme to ease the lending process and enhance loan availability for exporters


Key features of the scheme:

  1. Insurance cover guaranteed will cover up to 90 percent of the principal and interest.
  2. The increased cover will ensure that foreign and rupee export credit interest rates are below 4 percent and 8 percent respectively for the exporters.
  3. The insurance cover will include both pre and post-shipment credit. 
  4. The gems, jewellery and diamond (GJD) sector borrowers with limit of over Rs 80 crore will have a higher premium rate in comparison to the non-GJD sector borrowers of this category due to the higher loss ratio.
  5. For accounts with limits below Rs 80 crore, the premium rates will be moderated to 0.60 per annum and for those exceeding Rs80 crore, the rates will be 0.72 per annum for the same enhanced cover.
  6. It mandates inspection of bank documents and records by ECGC officials for losses exceeding Rs.10 crore as against the present Rs 1crore.
  7. The banks shall pay a premium to ECGC monthly on the principal and interest as the cover is offered for both outstandings.


Benefits of the scheme:

  1. It will enhance accessibility and affordability of credit for exporters.
  2. It will help make Indian exports competitive.
  3. It will make ECGC procedures exporter friendly.
  4. The insurance cover is expected to bring down the cost of credit due to capital relief, less provision requirement and liquidity due to quick settlement of claims.
  5. It will ensure timely and adequate working capital to the export sector.


About ECGC:

  • The Export Credit Guarantee Corporation of India (ECGC) is a fully government-owned company that was established in 1957 to promote exports by providing credit insurance services.
  • The ECGC provides Export Credit Insurance to Banks (ECIB) to protect the banks from losses on account of export credit at the Pre and Post-Shipment stage given to exporters due to the risks of insolvency or protracted default of the exporter borrower.


Sources: pib.

Topics Covered:

  1. Awareness in space.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: About LRO- mission objectives, components and significance, Significance of Lunar water and benefits.


Context: ISRO is attempting to figure out what happened to Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram with the help of NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).

About Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO):

It is a NASA mission to the moon within the Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program (LPRP) in preparation for future manned missions to the moon and beyond (Mars).

LRO is the first mission of NASA’s `New Vision for Space Exploration’.

The objectives of LRO are to:

  • Identify potential lunar resources.
  • Gather detailed maps of the lunar surface.
  • Collect data on the moon’s radiation levels.
  • Study the moons polar regions for resources that could be used in future manned missions or robotic sample return missions.
  • Provide measurements to characterize future robotic explorers, human lunar landing sites and to derive measurements that can be used directly in support of future Lunar Human Exploration Systems.


Sources: The Hindu.


Topics Covered:

  1. Conservation and pollution related issues.


India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP)


What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Highlights and significance of ICAP.


ContextIndia’s Cooling Action Plan (ICAP) has received appreciation from the UN on World Ozone Day.


Significance of ICAP:

India is the first country in world to develop such a document.


The goals emerging from the suggested interventions stated in ICAP are:

  • Reduction of cooling demand across sectors by 20% to 25 % by year 2037-38.
  • Reduction of refrigerant demand by 25% to 30% by year 2037-38.
  • Reduction of cooling energy requirements by 25% to 40% by year 2037-38.
  • Training and certification of 100,000 servicing sector technicians by the year 2022-23, in synergy with Skill India Mission.
  • Recognize “cooling and related areas” as a thrust area of research under the national S&T Programme.


The broad objectives of the India Cooling Action Plan include:

  • Assessment of cooling requirements across sectors in next 20 years and the associated refrigerant demand and energy use.
  • Map the technologies available to cater the cooling requirement including passive interventions, refrigerant-based technologies and alternative technologies such as not-in-kind technologies.
  • Suggest interventions in each sector to provide for sustainable cooling and thermal comfort for all.
  • Focus on skilling of RAC service technicians.
  • Develop an R&D innovation ecosystem for indigenous development of alternative technologies.


The following benefits would accrue to society over and above the environmental benefits:

  1. Thermal comfort for all – provision for cooling for EWS and LIG housing.
  2. Sustainable cooling – low GHG emissions related to cooling.
  3. Doubling Farmers Income – better cold chain infrastructure – better value of products to farmers, less wastage of produce.
  4. Skilled workforce for better livelihoods and environmental protection.
  5. Make in India – domestic manufacturing of air-conditioning and related cooling equipment’s.
  6. Robust R&D on alternative cooling technologies – to provide the push to innovation in a cooling sector.


Sources: the Hindu.

Topics covered:

Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.


Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA)


What to study?

For prelims: Key features of the act.

For mains: Issues related, why it is called a draconian law, need for reforms.


Why in News? Farooq Abdullah, Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, has been booked under the Public Safety Act (PSA).


What is the J&K PSA?

  1. The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) received the assent of the J&K Governor on April 8, 1978.
  2. The Act was introduced as a tough law to prevent the smuggling of timber and keep the smugglers “out of circulation”.
  3. The law allows the government to detain any person above the age of 16 without trial for a period of two years.
  4. The PSA allows for administrative detention for up to two years “in the case of persons acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State”, and for administrative detention up to one year where “any person is acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
  5. Detention orders under PSA can be issued by Divisional Commissioners or District Magistrates.
  6. Section 22 of the Act provides protection for any action taken “in good faith” under the Act: “No suit, prosecution or any other legal proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done or intended to be done in good faith in pursuance of the provisions of this Act.”
  7. Under Section 23 of the Act, the government is empowered to “make such Rules consistent with the provisions of this Act, as may be necessary for carrying out the objects of this Act”.


Why is it often referred to as a “draconian” law?

  1. Right from the beginning, the law was misused widely, and was repeatedly employed against political opponents by consecutive governments until 1990. After the emergence of militancy, the J&K government frequently invoked the PSA to crack down on separatists.
  2. In August 2018, the Act was amended to allow individuals to be detained under the PSA outside the state as well.
  3. The detaining authority need not disclose any facts about the detention “which it considers to be against the public interest to disclose”.
  4. The terms under which a person is detained under PSA are vague and include a broad range of activities like “acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of the State” or for “acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.
  5. The vagueness provided in the act gives unbridled powers to the authorities. The detainees, therefore, are effectively debarred from contesting the legality of their detention.
  6. PSA does not provide for a judicial review of detention. To checkmate the J&K High Court orders for release of persons detained under the act the state authorities issue successive detention orders. This ensures prolonged detention of people
  7. PSC has been used against human rights activists, journalists, separatists and others who are considered as a threat to the law & order. Right to dissent is stifled by these Acts.


Sources: The Hindu.

Facts for prelims:


Survey of India:

Why in News? Survey of India (SoI) will for the first time rely on drones to map the country.

About SoI:

  • It is the National Survey and Mapping Organization of the country under the Department of Science & Technology.
  • It is the oldest scientific department of the govt. of India set up in 1767.